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Archive for February 24th, 2020

Ever since I announced that I want to publish a third fiction collection, Lost Angels, sometime next year, my Muse of Fiction appears to have regained some interest in me.  I’ve been rolling one idea over in my head for about a month now, and then I woke up on Saturday the 15th from a dream that I was compelled to turn into a story before I slept again.  I’m not going to release it separately from the book, but I will tease a little of it here.  And if you’re a subscriber, gift-giver or client, and you’d like to read it before then, please just email me and I’ll send you a PDF copy.  The story begins with the director of a nursing home talking to an attendant about a recently-deceased patient…

…”It seems strange an educated man only had those two books; I don’t see a reader here. That phone screen seems very small for old eyes,” she said, rubbing hers as if to emphasize the statement.

“Oh, he spent most of his waking hours using the VR headset. Barely ever turned on the TV.”

“This?” Dr. Sprague picked the headset out of the box.  “I used to have one when I was in graduate school, back in the twenties.  But as I got older I just found it too overwhelming.  After my children grew up I never bought another one.”

“Oh, they’re a lot better than they were when I was young.  They used to make me sick and give me a headache, but not any more. Now it’s almost like the real thing, smell and all. The only thing they can’t seem to get right is the feel,” she said, gesticulating with her fingers.  “But my son says they’ll have that licked any time now.”

“Where are all his movies and games?  I just see the one that’s in the set now.”

“You know, I never gave that much thought.  I think that’s the only one he had.”

“Thank you, Jessica.  Would you mind if I sent for you when the family arrives?  If they indicate they’d like to speak to you, I mean.”

“No ma’am, I don’t mind at all.  And I won’t even tell ’em what he thought of ’em.”

Dr. Sprague laughed and saw the attendant out, then returned to her desk and picked up the headset.  In the absence of permission, it wasn’t entirely ethical to peek at what had kept a formerly-active old man busy for four years without leaving his room.  But a phrase came to her, from a 20th-century book she had often read to her children when they were young:  “When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey.”  The indicator LED was orange; there was certainly enough charge left for a quick look around whatever virtual world had been so fascinating, and she could easily pull it off and pretend she had never looked if it turned out to be something embarrassing.  So she held down the power button to start it, and placed the set on her head…

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